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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

I came across an interesting blog from a Wellness Center in New York, The R.E.S.T. Initiative. I really like the post about relaxation and how practicing relaxation exercises may actually change the way your body responds to stress: How Relaxation Exercises Can Heal You – Mind, Body and Spirit.

An excerpt of the article is below:

“Dr. Herbert Benson was quoted in the US News and Planet Report saying, ‘What we’ve discovered is that after you evoke the leisure response, the very genes which can be turned on or off by tension are turned another way. The thoughts can actively flip on and flip off genes. The mind is not separated from your physique.’

His research demonstrates that equally as you may trigger well being issues within the physique by means of way of life choices, it is possible to also create superior well being by means of way of life also. This may be the very first extensive study to indicate how thoughts says can impact gene expression…

Studying to harness your own individual energy and to calmly concentrate inside is often a useful ability for managing hectic instances of tension. Fostering an capability to slow your breathing and decrease your heart rate by way of practiced relaxation strategies is often highly restorative, permitting you to think additional plainly and calmly. Equally as you’ll be able to harm your wellness through tension connected sickness, research are actually being completed to indicate that you can recover your physique by means of employing tactics that relaxed the mind and body. Positive outcomes from rest techniques were long thought to become “all inside the head” with the consumer, but Scientists are now beginning to discover much more definitive evidence that these approaches of relaxation response possess a biofeedback mechanism that alters gene expression.”

To link to the complete post click here.

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04.26.09 [#116] Feet Week - At Rest
Image by Jeezny via Flickr

By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Some of you may wonder why I haven’t posted much over the past week. It’s simple–I caught a touch of the flu and have needed to rest.

As a massage therapist, wellness coach, and small business owner, I work a lot of hours. And in my work, I come in contact with many people every day. Some of my clients see me when they are sick or are getting over an illness but are still contagious. Being self employed, I don’t get paid sick time.  Therefore, I do all I can to avoid catching colds and flues. However, there are still times when my immune system can’t handle the fight and an infection or flu bug gets me. Luckily, living healthy keeps me well most of the time and helps me get over most illnesses relatively quickly. In those times when I do get sick, one of the principle methods I use to get over an illness is one you can’t buy in a store: it’s rest.

The definition of rest, according to education.yahoo.com here is:

  1. Cessation of work, exertion, or activity.
  2. Peace, ease, or refreshment resulting from sleep or the cessation of an activity.
  3. Sleep or quiet relaxation.
  4. The repose of death: eternal rest.
  5. Relief or freedom from disquiet or disturbance.
  6. Mental or emotional tranquillity.
  7. Termination or absence of motion.

Looking through this list, how many times the past week have you been able to achieve the definitions cited in point 1, 2, 3 or 5 above? When I think of rest, I don’t only think of sleep. I also think of relaxing, having quiet time to contemplate my navel or meditate or watch clouds pass overhead. Resting to me is a time to let the worldly concerns go and just relax my mind and body. Which is tough to do in today’s fast paced culture. But rest is ever more important in today’s world. Most people do not even get the required 7-8 hours of sleep. Then they spend the day working on computers, meeting with other people, traveling and commuting, going to the gym or home to spend time with family. In all the hours we spend working and meeting outside obligations, rest is often confined to the hours of sleep we can sandwich into  the rest of our lives. But studies show that rest is an important tool in our wellness arsenal. Napping is a common event in many cultures (just not in the U.S.!). Read more from my post on Daytime Naps here. And meditation is an effective way to rest our minds as well.

NASA is currently doing a study on how bed rest effects human subjects in space travel. Read more about the study here.

While I rest, read more great articles on rest:

• The vital importance of rest here.

• Give your immune system a  rest here.

• The effects of sleep deprivation on brain and behavior here.

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Relaxation Exercises to Reduce Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
from Helpguide.org

Deep Breathing

Stress Relief: Yoga, Meditation, and Other Relaxation Techniques

The body’s natural relaxation response is a powerful antidote to stress. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, visualization, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, and yoga can help you activate this relaxation response. When practiced regularly, these activities lead to a reduction in your everyday stress levels and a boost in your feelings of joy and serenity. What’s more, they also serve a protective quality by teaching you how to stay calm and collected in the face of life’s curveballs.

The Relaxation Response

The relaxation response is a mentally active process that leaves the body relaxed. It is best done in an awake state so don’t practice relaxation when you are very sleepy. The Relaxation Response IS trainable and becomes more profound with practice.

The stress response floods your body with chemicals that prepare you for “fight or flight.” But while the stress response is helpful in true emergency situations where you must be alert, it wears your body down when constantly activated. You can’t avoid all stress, but you can counteract its negative effects by learning how to evoke the relaxation response.

The relaxation response brings your system back into balance: deepening your breathing, reducing stress hormones, slowing down your heart rate and blood pressure, and relaxing your muscles. In addition to its calming physical effects, research shows that the relaxation response also increases energy and focus, combats illness, relieves aches and pains, heightens problem-solving abilities, and boosts motivation and productivity.

Starting a Relaxation Response Practice

A variety of relaxation techniques help you achieve the relaxation response. Those whose stress-busting benefits have been widely studied include deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, visualization, yoga, and tai chi.

Learning the basics of these relaxation techniques isn’t difficult. But it takes daily practice to get full benefit of their stress-relieving power. Most stress experts recommend setting aside at least 10 to 20 minutes a day for your relaxation practice. If you’d like to get even more stress relief, aim for 30 minutes to an hour.

More Relaxation Techniques from www.helpguide.org

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